Best Pianists of All Time

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The Top Ten

The other comments pretty much say it all! I have been a Yanni fan for over 25 years and have been to as many concerts as I can get to. In April 2011, we saw him followed by an unheard-of tour the very next year. I was lucky enough to see him twice in June 2012, to have attended my first Fan Event dinner, and especially to have inadvertently crashed rehearsal and chatted briefly with him from a distance! Meeting some of the world-class orchestra members at the dinner and finally meeting Charlie Adams after the concert made the night. Mary Simpson is from very near where I live and she was a joy. Sarah O'Brien, as lovely as always, was also generous with her time. Yoel del Sol has the most adorable smile, and they all were patient while group and individual photos were taken. Thanks also to Krystal Vinck with PR who brought "Santorini" and handed her off to my cousin who was wearing the Santorini shirt from the concert two nights before! I know Pam hated to part with Santorini! I still wish to meet Ming Freeman and, of course, Yanni himself. As he has said, "Dreams do come true. " I am a firm believer of that and am awaiting my day! He is the first musician yet to compose and play music that reaches right into my soul! Although it seems as though the American audiences won't have another tour this year as promised, I am so happy that worldwide audiences get to experience the concert LIVE. There is nothing to compare with a LIVE concert! Come back to America on tour again soon, Yanni! We all love you!
It's probably a once-a-century (or millennia) event that someone rises somewhere in the world; shoots up and keeps on going. Let's not forget that Yanni is a self-educated accomplished musician; his "musical shorthand" is an astoundingly innovative method to make oneself able to read music. He didn't stop at his inability to read conventional notes, but made his own notes to jump over that barrier -- simply amazing! And for someone who could do that, I'm not least astonished that he could come this far, to stand in the foreground of best world musicians and public performers. Yanni's psychology major is probably a contributing element in his success at conveying his music directly to the soul. Yanni you've been my #1 inspiration source and musical delight since August 1993, and still occupy that stature till this very day, 20 years later. God has indeed blessed such wonderful children of His; may He keep you both physically and spiritually, and shower you with His graces. Thank you for being Yanni.
George Afara - Lebanon.
Wait a minute; bear with me please, I have to say this: now I realize (reading Yanni's bio) why I found John Tesh's style so like Yanni's when he released "Live at Red Rocks" back in the nineties -- he toured with Yanni and Charlie Adams back in 1988. Case dismissed.
"Yanni live at the Acropolis" was his finest hour as a pianist, no doubt about that. Despite playing among the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and some world class band members, including a terrific Karen Briggs on violin, Yanni was in my opinion the best and most accomplished performer on the night. Here, he showcased all of his qualities as a pianist/keyboardist: musicality, sensitivity, technique, motoric skills, attention to detail, virtuosity, passion, accompaniment skills, courage, humility, ability to connect with the audience. Another great example of his abilities as a musician is the "In My Time" album - it's full of beautiful, deep piano solo pieces which will warm your heart and heal your soul. Yanni is without a doubt one of the best pianists of our time.
[Newest]Excellent technical ability, but more importantly, magical compositions like no other.
More comments about Yanni

2Franz Liszt
Stunning technical ability- outstanding musicality evidenced in his compositions- years and years of time to evidence that he did indeed leave a lasting legacy- Franz Liszt must be very highly regarded in any list of pianists.
First of all yanni on top come on man. a person with 0.1% knowledge in this field will tell you that's LIszt perhaps was and is still the best pianist of all time although chopin sir would come close but the Liszt is probably the only man till this date who has fully satisfied his girlfriends!
Yanni is a modern pianist. How can he even be compared to the classical greats? The technical brilliance and the incredible composing and improvising abilities of the virtuosic pianists of the classical and romantic era simply cannot be put against some 'nice sounding' music. With all due respect to every other musician, Beethoven is the greatest composer ever and Franz Liszt is the greatest pianist ever.
[Newest]Although I like chopins music more, I still think liszt is a better pianist, with stunning technical ability.

3Ludwig van Beethoven
Timeless pieces, flawless execution of emotion through music... How do you beat that?
He is my favorite pianist ever!
He is a great piano player he has great piano pieces like fur Elise
[Newest]The most professional player ever

4Elton John
Elton John was accepted at Royal Music Academy at 11 for playing a thirteen sheet piece by Chopin that he had never seen before without any mistake, I believe. He kept playing pieces by heart that he had heard once. Is there anything left to be said?
Touches hearts with every key he plays. Tell me, who else can do that? He has gone down in history as a legend, an icon and an idea of beauty with his songs. He taught the entire world a lesson about the real meaning of music and that the only way to touch people's lives its playing from the heart.
I think elton john is the best Piano Player of the world

Sanjay Gupta

5Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
It is blasphemous that mozart isn't number 1. Absolutely blasphemous.
It is all opinion. But I have to say Mozart is a master at piano.
Mozart is the beast
[Newest]Mozart wrote his first symphony at the age of 9

6Frederic Chopin
He s obviously the greatest pianist in the world. End of Story.
Chopin always first and then we can make a "list".
Man who wrote poems with the piano
[Newest]Listening to one of his pieces feels like the moment just before you fall asleep.

7Billy Joel
Billy Joel - nobody compares.
He shouldn't be on this list in the first place in all honesty.
I mean, I like Billy-Boy, but his skill with pianos is third-rate, maybe second-rate, on a good day.

He's a great entertainer though.
Sing us a song you're the Piano Man
[Newest]The best of the best!


8William Joseph
I was so fortunate to have seen William Joseph in concert. His music takes us on this great emotional journey leaving us inspired and rejuvenated. He is a great pianist, composer, songwriter and a wonderful person. He started composing at the age of five. Some of the fan favourites are his Piano Fantasy, Within, Sweet Remembrance of You. His latest collection of beloved hymns is a masterpiece. His rendition of Asturias is by far the best I've heard. If you haven't heard him yet please do watch his videos on YouTube. He is legendary and he will be remembered for generations to come.
He is the best pianist ever! His albums inspire all of his listeners, and bring such a joy to the world. I think he should be number one on this list! He is young, charming, and well rounded. My most favorite pianist ever. :-) Keep rocking it William!
William Joseph is an amazing piano player! He is passionate about it and it shows! I love his albums! They are wonderful and bring my family and I so much happiness! Plus, he is an amazing man!

9Sergei Rachmaninov
Rachmaninov's tonality and perfect clarity earn him the number one spot on this list (in my opinion). I think that Joel and John are talented, but really shouldn't be close to the top 5. Yanni is talented, but again, he's no where near as talented as Rachmaninov.

Furthermore, Rachmaninov's command of theory and timing is impeccable. Additionally, as seen with his predecessor Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov's use of theme and the changes thereof within a piece is so masterful it seems as if he is strategically making the audience feel a specific way, just so he can make them feel different later on.
Top 10 no doubt. The sophistication in his compositions put him right up there with Chopin for musical genius. The very young generation knows what it likes to hear fun touching music and go for mainstream. Those of us that have been around for a while know the difference between great entertainment (something that probably all pianists mentioned here can provide) and great music (that only a few have the true gift of composing and playing at the highest level).
Well... This pool shows only that mainstream music is dominating and that's why they vote for it. Of course, that Rachmaninov is the best pianist we can listen to...

What about Freddy? He himself said that he was always scared of playing piano in concerts, because of mistakes... What about Elthon John comparing for example Horowitz?..
[Newest]Rachmaninov is love, Rachmaninov is life.

10John Lennon
John lennon? Really? TheTopTens lists always ends up being a popularity contest, smh

The Contenders

11Vladimir Horowitz
Horowitz is the greatest pianist, period. How on earth is it that he being beat by a music school DROPOUT. Horowitz had technically mastery, but also complete control over his dynamics. Just listen to his version of Movement 3 of the Moonlight sonata, a piece a doubt Elton John could even play.
Touch, dynamics, emotion, repertoire, range of composers with such different styles... And totally overcoming the slight handicap of being short of stature... It is almost a joke to put Yanni, Billy and Elton in the same category list wise. There should be two separate lists at least... We aren't talking about playing music you've composed yourself here, we are talking about playing the piano... I have huge respect for the others as musicians and performers and all are very good at the piano but they cannot begin to come close to Horowitz. Rubenstein maybe can... Rachmaninov maybe can... Serkin maybe can... But the others? I'm sorry... Get real.
Horowitz' touch was not of this earth. He is hands down, no pun intended the winner here.

And YANNI Before BEETHOVEN? Are you insane? Did you receive a blow to the head lately? Wow.
[Newest]There isn't enough time allotted on this planet for me explain how I still feel about Horowitz.

12Artur Rubinstein
This guy's an interpreting genius! He should be in the top 10, at least.

13Oscar Peterson
I don't take anything away from Yanni! When I first seen his concert in, I knew what I wanted to do as a musician in concert! But what he does as a pianist many musicians today do very easily by ear! Art tatum is my favorite! But Yanni at number 1 is an insult to the instrument! Composing now by ear is acomplished through knowing what you want each instrument to do and executing it on the synthesizer! So Yanni discovering a new path, No he is innovative with musical concert delivery! One of the most unselfish piano synthesizer conductors ever more like it! Their are pianist that have changed how we hear the piano! Lets give their legacy more respect! Once again I love Yannis music, but number one of piano list of 125 pianist!
Fabulous technique and unique interpretation, my favourite pianist
Definitely Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum, obviously a jazz fan and Fur Elise by the way is a very simple piece of music, my 11 year old niece plays it perfectly. Please don't comment if you are not a musician.

14Johann Sebastian Bach
How have we all forgotten about the one who innovated it all? Look at pieces like Toccata and Fugue and My Jesus! Oh What Anguish and the intricate playing that went into them. This guy was know for using a stick in his mouth to hit extra keys after he had already used all of his fingers.

15Lang Lang
CNN said he is the most famous classical artist of all times. Beating out Pavarotti. CNN also said he is more famous than The Beatles. Don't take my word for it. Search for CNN's Lang Lang online.
He is by far the best pianist today!
Lang Lang is actually not as astonishing virtuoso as his countrywoman Yuja Wang. Yuja Wang is truly the heir to Horowitz at the age of 27! She is the only person alive who can play the fiendishly difficult piano piece... Czittra's Polka. You can watch her play it on the viewing website. It's mind blowing.

16Emil Gilels
One of the most gifted pianists of all time.

17Art Tatum
Listen to his rendition of Tiger Rag. Incredible technique.
Even his peers called him the best of all time in any style.
Art could play anything the rest of these people composed add his own improvisationin the middle and finish with whatever he started. The others could even keep up.

18Ferucco Busoni

19Ming Freeman
Ming is, as Bette Midler sang, the "wind beneath the wings" of Yanni. The best pianists and keyboardist I have had the pleasure to hear in contemporary times.
He is able to play any genre of music. In one week, I heard him play blues, rock and roll and accompany a Chinese harpist. Very talented and very versatile. Also, a very kind and gentle person.

20Josef Lhevinne
Listen to the very few recordings he made. Then decide.
Technically the best (even better than Rachmaninoff, dare I say), with beautiful musicianship. He won the Gold Medal at the Moscow Conservatory in 1892, besting fellow students Rachmaninoff and Scriabin.

21Blind Tom Wiggins

22Moriz Rosenthal
No doubt! Yanni is the best! Yanni Chryssomallis! He touches the world's heart! And he learned by own! Autodidact!

23Jerry Lee Lewis
"The Killer" is number 1!

24Claude-Achille Debussy

25Jiří Malásek

26Rudolph Serkin

27Alicia de Larrocha

28Adele Marcus

29Glenn Gould
Many of his Bach fuges and preludes are perfect. His Liszt/Beethoven symphony nr.5 is the best piano repertoire of all time.
His performances suggest he attained a musical understanding nearly equal to some of the greatest composers. One of the greatest, worthy of top 10.
For me, one of the best pianist

30Yuja Wang
She is brilliant technically and artistically. She plays powerfully and softly and with great velocity. Truly gifted.
The greatest virtuoso since Horowitz. And even greater artistry.
The heir to Howowitz and Argerich in dexterity and virtuosity. She is already better than them with her artistry and BIG box office and sales.
She is one rich pianist at 27 as of this post in fall 2014.

31Yundi Li

32Sviatoslav Richter
Richter--separating the superhuman from the great.
His playing abilities can only be compared to Horowitz and Rachmaninoff. He also had GREAT memorization and gave his heart to his music.
Huge repetoire, incredible technique along with great musicality. One of the greatest of all time.

Definitely one of my favourites, everybody loves his works, he deserves to be in the top tens at least, or even the eleventh
YIRUMA ALL THE WAY! HE SHOULD BE #1! There is no doubt in my mind that Yiruma is the best pianist of all time.
My all time favorite song is river flows into you.
Seriously... listen to it, it's so peaceful.
I love his work.


34Luigi Saracino

35Paul McCartney
McCa is better is then Lennon I'm every way! You people are dumb for saying McCa is worse than Lennon. McCa should be top 5. Billie Joel's really good, too.

36George Gershwin
Great, I Love his pieces.

37Adnan Sami

38Emily Bear
I don't know how explain her amazing piano playing. I like to her style.
Shes just amazing, no words can discribe how well she plays the piano.

Most enjoyable to listen to regardless of type of music. Brought the classics to the masses
The one to listen to for any child dreaming of becoming great on the piano in the 1950's.
Amazingly talented and a great entertainer!

40Vijay Venkatesh
Absolutely incredible pianist, I had the privilege of hearing him in cities across California. He will definitely become one of the legendary pianists of the 21st century.
Heavenly tone. Incredible poise and presence. My favorite pianist by far.

41Marc-andre Hamelin
A triumphant pioneer of old music and the new. Has recording in nearly every area of piano with very approachable musicality and an indisputably profound technical proficiency. He is nothing short of sheer perfection; he is elegant, powerful, subtle, explicit.

42John Ogdon

43Clara Schumann

44Mitsuko Uchida
Pure artistry. very difficult to compare one artist to another, all are unique, Rubenstein, Hess, Argerich...

45Stephen Hough

46Martha Argerich
She's also hot (when she was younger of course)

47Matthew Bellamy
Ultimately Brilliant. One of the greatest pianists alive.
Muse's driving force. Impeccable Pianist.
Flawless.. And heart-warming..
Songs Like "Explorers", "United states of eurasia", And "Starlight".
Matthew bellamy is a gifted pianist.
Incompatible with any other Rock artist who plays such exqusite piano.
Great. A legendary Pianist.
5 star to him.

48Valentina Lisitsa
I just love the way she plays

49Fazil Say
A Turkish pianist and composer born in Ankara, Turkey.

50Yuhki Kuramoto

51Radu Lupu

52Jorge Bolet

53Idil Biret

54Chris Martin

55Mikhail Vasilievich Pletnev

56Scott Joplin

57Joni Mitchell

58Shura Cherkassky

59Rick Wakeman

60John Vesely
Cheer up John Vesely secondhand serenade or to get a crown in the competition is ok, you are the champion of the other winners, I support you to be the best, let's keep serenades and John Vesely is the Best, Ryan Cook is the excellent and Tom Broyfogle is expert

61Krystian Zimerman

62Hiromi Uehara
Just listen to her once.. I m sure you'll fall in love with her.. She is the most talented jazz pianist I've ever heard

63Ben Folds
Deserves to be in top 20 at least. The best rock n' Roll Pianist of the last 20 years.

64Mike Shinoda
Mike Shinoda is the best rapper and pianist. Linkin Park Rocks!
Mike is one talented person i"ve ever seen..and a great pianist too

65Bruce Hornsby

66Ludovico Einaudi
Should be at least #5

67Ralph Sharon

68Tim Rice-Oxley
Best Emotion KEANE best nice good amazing world number one
Must be the most enthusiastic pianist in a while.

69Omar Khairat
! How is he not one of the top 10. So far I've never met anyone who'd say they've listened to Omar khairat music cause the correct phrase is " I've fallen in love with Omar khairat's music". His compositions will surly do nothing but touch the very depths of your soul. Listen to The Case of Am Ahmed to better know this heart-churning artist, then you'd understand where he really belongs on this list.

70Georgii Cherkin

71Richard Wright

72Władysław Szpilman

73Harry Connick Jr.

74Claudio Arrau
He's extremely talented pianist

75Keith Emerson

76Benny Andersson

77Stephan Moccio

78Gabriela Montero

79Jon Schmidt

80Leopold Godowski

81Jozef Kapustka
Polish pianist, a true phenomenon of versatility.

82Yann Tiersen

83Joe Zawinul

84Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
He was the best pianist ever in my opinion.
I love his music, especially Solfeggietto because it is fast and enjoyable.

85Freddie Mercury
He is awesome I absolutely love him and I'm 10 wel I've loved him since I was 10
Okay, so I was like, Imma go see a list of best pianists! It'll be great! I'm sure Freddie Mercury will be high on the list! Now that I have seen that he isn't even ON the list, I no longer appreciate life.

86Jeffrey Biegel

87Jan Lisiecki

88John Field
An Irish composer who actually came up with the concept of Nocturne admired by Frédéric Chopin, who subsequently made the piano nocturne famous.

89Andre Mathieu

90Johann Nepomuk Hummel

91Gyorgy Sebok

92Jennifer Thomas

93Nikolai Lugansky
I heard him play (live) the Rach 3 concerto with Temerkanov conducting --he is an underrated pianist in my opinion.

94Glen Hardin

95Elijah Bossenbroek

96David Nevue

97Olga Kern

98Adrian Lee

99Hélène Grimaud

100Bryan Pezzone
This man can play the most difficult classical pieces and then turn around an improvise an amazing jazz session and everything in between. Why he isn't more well known is a mystery to me. See him this summer at the California Philharmonic on August 10.

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This list was created 5 years, 114 days ago and has been voted on over 1,000 times. This top ten list contains 126 items, has been remixed 8 times.

Updated Thursday, April 16, 2015

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